Beer glass designs and the difference between registered and unregistered designs

The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court — formerly the Patents County Court — has ruled that a UK registered design for a beer glass was valid and infringed by the defendants’ glass. It also found that the unregistered design right in the design was infringed by one of the rival’s design features.

Registered designs — governed by the Registered Designs Act 1949, as amended — confer on the owner of a registered design a monopoly right to make articles incorporating that design for up to 25 years from the date of registration. A design will be capable of registration if it is new and has individual character. This means that the design must not be identical or differ only in immaterial details to a prior design, and it must produce a different overall impression on the informed user.

Unregistered design right, which is governed by provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, subsists in an original design of any aspect of the shape or configuration of the whole or any part of an article. A design will not benefit from unregistered design right where it is ‘commonplace’ in the design field at the time of its creation. The right confers a monopoly right to reproduce the design for commercial purposes, such as by making articles to that design…

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